Dewey, John 1859–1952

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DEWEY, John 1859–1952

PERSONAL: Born October 20, 1859, in Burlington, VT; died of pneumonia and complications resulting from a broken hip, June 1, 1952, in New York, NY; son of Archibald (a grocer) and Lucina (Rich) Dewey; married Harriet Alice Chipman (a philosophy student), July 28, 1886, (died, 1927); married Roberta Lowitz Grant, December, 1946; children: (first marriage) four sons (one adopted), four daughters; (second marriage) John, Adrienne (adopted Belgian war orphans). Education: University of Vermont, B.A., 1879; Johns Hopkins University, Ph.D., 1884.

CAREER: Oil City High School, Oil City, PA, teacher, 1879–81; Lake View Seminary, Charlotte, VT, teacher, 1881–82; University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, department of philosophy, professor, 1884–87, chair of department, 1888–94; University of Minnesota, department of mental and moral philosophy, chair, 1887; University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, department of philosophy, chair, 1894–1905; Columbia University, New York, NY, department of philosophy, chair, 1905–30, professor emeritus in residence, 1930–52. Lecturer at numerous universities, colleges, schools, and professional meetings, and in Japan and China, 1919–20, Turkey, 1924, Mexico, 1926, and the Soviet Union, 1928; charter member of teacher's union, Teachers League of New York, 1913, vice president, 1916–19; assisted in founding of New School of Social Research, New York, NY, 1919; cofounder of University-in-Exile for professors fleeing Nazi Germany and fascist states, 1933.

MEMBER: American Psychological Association (president, 1899), American Philosophical Association (president, 1905), American Association for the Advancement of Science (president, 1909), American Association of University Presidents (cofounder, first president, 1913), Hull House (Chicago, IL; member of board of trustees), Henry Street Settlement (New York, NY; member of board of trustees), American Civil Liberties Union, American Committee for the Outlawry of War (cofounder), American Committee for Cultural Freedom (cofounder), League for Industrial Democracy (charter member; president, 1939–41), Philosophical Society, Students' Christian Association, People's Lobby (chairman).

AWARDS, HONORS: Honorary president, National Education Association, 1932; also recipient of numerous other awards and honors.



My Pedagogic Creed, E. L. Kellogg (New York, NY), 1897, Progressive Education Association (Washington, DC), 1929.

The School and Society; Being Three Lectures by John Dewey Supplemented by a Statement of the University Elementary School, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1899, revised edition published as The School and Society, 1915, published with a preface by Joe R. Burnett, Southern Illinois University Press (Carbondale, IL), 1980.

The Elementary School Record, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1900.

The Educational Situation, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1902, Arno Press (New York, NY), 1969.

The Child and the Curriculum (also see below), University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1902.

The School and the Child; Being Selections from the Educational Essays of John Dewey, Blackie & Son (London, England), 1907.

Ethical Principles Underlying Education, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1908.

Moral Principles in Education, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1909, Southern Illinois University Press (Carbondale, IL), 1975.

Educational Essays by John Dewey, Blackie & Son (London, England), 1910.

Interest and Effort in Education, Houghton Mifflin (Boston, MA), 1913, Southern Illinois University Press (Carbondale, IL), 1975.

(With Evelyn Dewey) Schools of To-morrow, E. P. Dutton (New York, NY), 1915, published as Schools of Tomorrow, Dutton (New York, NY), 1962.

Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1916, Dover (Mineola, NY), 2004.

Progressive Education and the Science of Education, Progressive Education Association (Washington, DC), 1928.

The Sources of a Science of Education, H. Liveright (New York, NY), 1929.

(Coauthor) Am I Getting an Education?, Doubleday Doran (Garden City, NY), 1929.

American Education Past and Future, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1931.

The Way Out of Educational Confusion, Harvard University Press (Cambridge, MA), 1931.

Education and the Social Order, League for Industrial Democracy (New York, NY), 1934.

Experience and Education, Macmillan (New York, NY), 1938.

Education Today, edited and with a foreword by Joseph Ratner, Putnam (New York, NY), 1940.

Philosophy of Education (also published as Problems of Men), Philosophical Library (New York, NY), 1946.

The Child and the Curriculum, and The School and Society, introduction by Leonard Carmichael, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1956, new edition with introduction by Philip W. Jackson, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1990.

Dewey on Education (introduction and notes by Martin S. Dworkin), Columbia University Teachers College (New York, NY), 1959.

Dictionary of Education, Philosophical Library (New York, NY), 1959, new edition edited by Ralph B. Winn, with a foreword by John Herman Randall, Jr., Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1972.

The Relation of Theory to Practice in Education, Association for Student Teaching (Cedar Falls, IA), 1962.

John Dewey on Education: Selected Writings, edited and with an introduction by Reginald D. Archambalt, Modern Library (New York, NY), 1964.

Lectures in the Philosophy of Education, 1899, Random House (New York, NY), 1966.

Selected Educational Writings, with an introduction and commentary by F. W. Garforth, Heinemann (London, England), 1966.

Philosophy and Education in Their Historic Relations, compiled by Elsie Ripley Clapp, edited and with an introduction by J. J. Chambliss, Westview Press (Boulder, CO), 1993.

Also author of National Education Association addresses, including General Principles of Educational Articulation, 1929, Education and or Present Social Problems, 1933, and Education for a Changing Social Order, 1934. Author of Selected Statements about the American Federation of Teachers, American Federation of Teachers (Chicago, IL).


Outlines of a Critical Theory of Ethics, Michigan Register Publishing Company (Ann Arbor, MI), 1891.

The Significance of the Problem of Knowledge, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1897.

(Editor) Studies in Logical Theory, with the Cooperation of Members and Fellows of the Department of Philosophy, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1903.

(With James H. Tufts) Ethics, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 1908, revised edition, Holt (New York, NY), 1938.

The Influence of Darwin on Philosophy, and Other Essays in Contemporary Thought, H. Holt (New York, NY), 1910.

German Philosophy and Politics, H. Holt (New York, NY), 1915.

Essays in Experimental Logic, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1916, Dover (Mineola, NY), 2004.

Reconstruction in Philosophy, H. Holt (New York, NY), 1920, enlarged edition with a new introduction by the author, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 1948, Dover (Mineola, NY), 2004.

The Philosophy of John Dewey, selected and edited by Joseph Ratner, H. Holt (New York, NY), 1928, edited and with commentary by John J. McDermott, Putnam (New York, NY), 1973.

The Quest for Certainty: A Study of the Relation of Knowledge and Action, Minton, Balch (New York, NY), 1929, reprinted, Putnam (New York, NY), 1960.

Logical Conditions of a Scientific Treatment of Morality, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1930.

Philosophy and Civilization, Minton, Balch (New York, NY), 1931, reprinted, P. Smith (Gloucester, MA), 1968.

Logic, the Theory of Inquiry, H. Holt (New York, NY), 1938.

Theory of Valuation, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1939.

(With Arthur F. Bentley) Knowing and the Known, Beacon Press (Boston, MA), 1949.

Theory of the Moral Life, with an introduction by Arnold Isenberg, Irvington Publishers (New York, NY), 1960.

The Structure of Experience, [New York, NY], 1973.


Psychology, Harper Brothers (New York, NY), 1887, revised edition, 1891.

Leibniz's New Essays Concerning the Human Understanding, S. C. Griggs (Chicago, IL), 1888.

Psychology and Social Practice, University of Chicago Press (Chicago, IL), 1901, published as Philosophy, Psychology and Social Practice: Essays, selected, edited, and with a foreword by Joseph Ratner, Putnam (New York, NY), 1963.

How We Think, D. C. Heath (Boston, MA), 1910, published as How We Think, a Restatement of the Relation of Reflective Thinking to the Educative Process, 1933, published as How We Think, Prometheus Books (Buffalo, NY), 1991.

Creative Intelligence, H. Holt (New York, NY), 1917.

Human Nature and Conduct: An Introduction to Social Psychology, H. Holt (New York, NY), 1922, published with a new introduction by John Dewey, Modern Library (New York, NY), 1930, Dover (Mineola, NY), 2002.

Experience and Nature, Open Court (Chicago, IL), 1925, reprinted, Dover (New York, NY), 1958.

Context and Thought, University of California Press (Berkeley, CA), 1931.

Types of Thinking Including a Survey of Greek Philosophy, with an introduction by Samuel Meyer, Philosophical Library (New York, NY), 1984.

Also author of Interest as Related to Will, 1903.


The Ethics of Democracy, Andrews & Company (Ann Arbor, MI), 1888.

The Public and Its Problems, H. Holt (New York, NY), 1927.

John Dewey on Henry George, and What Some Others Say, Robert Schalkenbach Foundation (New York, NY), 1927.

Characters and Events: Popular Essays in Social and Political Philosophy, edited by Joseph Ratner, H. Holt (New York, NY), 1929.

Individualism, Old and New, Minton, Balch (New York, NY), 1930.

A Common Faith, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1934.

Liberalism and Social Action, Putnam (New York, NY), 1935, Prometheus Books (Amherst, NY), 1999.

Freedom and Culture, Putnam (New York, NY), 1939.

What Is Democracy? Its Conflicts, Ends and Means, Cooperative Books (Norman, OK), 1939.

Intelligence in the Modern World: John Dewey's Philosophy, edited and with an introduction by Joseph Ratner, Modern Library (New York, NY), 1939.

Principles of Instrumental Logic: John Dewey's Lectures in Ethics and Political Ethics, 1895–1896, Southern Illinois University Press (Carbondale, IL), 1998.


(With Alice Chipman Dewey) Letters from China and Japan, edited by Evelyn Dewey, E. P. Dutton (New York, NY), 1920.

China, Japan and the U.S.A.: Present-Day Conditions in the Far East and Their Bearing on the Washington Conference, Republic Publishing (New York, NY), 1921.

Impressions of Soviet Russia and the Revolutionary World, Mexico—China—Turkey, New Republic (New York, NY), 1929, reprinted, Columbia University Teachers College (New York, NY), 1964.

The Case of Leon Trotsky, Harper & Brothers (New York, NY), 1937.

Tragedy of a People: Racialism in Czecho-Slovakia, American Friends of Democratic Students (New York, NY), 1946.

The John Dewey Report, Milli Egitim Bakanligi, Test Ve Arastirma Bros (Ankara, Turkey), 1960.

Also author of Conditions among the Poles in the United States: Confidential Report, 1918.


The Wit and Wisdom of John Dewey, edited and with an introduction by A. H. Johnson, Greenwood Press (Westport, CT), 1949.

John Dewey: His Contribution to the American Tradition, Bobbs-Merrill (Indianapolis, IN), 1955.

On Experience, Nature, and Freedom; Representative Selections, edited and with an introduction by Richard J. Bernstein, Liberal Arts Press (New York, NY), 1960.

The Collected Works of John Dewey, 1882–1953, Southern Illinois University Press (Carbondale, IL), Series I: The Early Works, 1882–1898, edited by Jo Ann Boydston, 1969–72, Series II: The Middle Works, 1899–1924, edited by Jo Ann Boydston, with an introduction by Joe R. Burnett, 1976–1983, Series III: The Later Works, 1925–1953, edited by Jo Ann Boydston, with a new introduction by John Dewey, edited by Joseph Ratner, 1981–90.

John Dewey, edited and with an introduction by Malcolm Skilbeck, Collier-Macmillan (London, England), 1970.

John Dewey: The Essential Writings, edited by David Sidorsky, Harper (New York, NY), 1977.

Lectures on Psychological and Political Ethics, 1898, edited and with an introduction by Donald F. Koch, Hafner Press (New York, NY), 1976.

The Moral Writings of John Dewey, edited and with an introduction and notes by James Goinlock, Hafner Press (New York, NY), 1976, revised edition, Prometheus Books (Amherst, NY), 1994.

Lectures on Ethics, 1900–1901, edited and with an introduction by Donald F. Koch, Southern Illinois University Press (Carbondale, IL), 1991.

The Political Writings, edited, with introduction, by Debra Morris and Ian Shapiro, Hackett (Indianapolis, IN), 1993.

The Essential Dewey, edited by Larry A. Hickman and Thomas M. Alexander, Indiana University Press (Bloomington, IL), 1998.


The Open Door, United States Book Company (New York, NY), 1891.

Construction and Criticism, Columbia University Press (New York, NY), 1930.

(Editor) New York and the Seabury Investigation: A Digest and Interpretation of the Reports by Samuel Seabury concerning the Government of New York City, Prepared by a Committee of Educators and Civic Workers under the Chairmanship of John Dewey, The City Affairs Committee of New York (New York, NY), 1933.

Art as Experience, Minton, Balch (New York, NY), 1934.

(Editor) The Living Thoughts of Thomas Jefferson, Longmans, Green (New York, NY), 1940.

(Editor, with Horace M. Kallen) The Bertrand Russell Case, Viking Press (New York, NY), 1941.

David Dubinsky: A Pictorial Biography, foreword by William Green, introduction by Walter P. Reuther, Inter-allied Publications (New York, NY), 1951.

The Lived Experience, edited with an introduction and commentary by John J. McDermott, Putnam (New York, NY), 1973.

Lectures in China, 1919–1920, translated from the Chinese and edited by Robert W. Clopton and Tsuin-chen O, University Press of Hawaii (Honolulu, HI), 1973.

The Poems of John Dewey, edited, with an introduction by Jo Ann Boydston, Southern Illinois University Press (Carbondale, IL), 1977.

Also author of Interpretations of the Culture-Epoch Theory, from the National Hebart Society Yearbook, 1896.

Contributor to numerous books, including Art and Education: A Collection of Essays by John Dewey and Others, Barnes Foundation Press (Merion, PA), 1929, Creative Intelligence: Essays in the Pragmatic Attitude, Octagon Books (New York, NY), 1970, Not Guilty: Report of the Commission of Inquiry into the Charges Made against Leon Trotsky in the Moscow Trials, Monad Press (New York, NY), 1972, and Science, Technology, and Society, edited by Julius A. Sigler, University Press of America (Lanham, MD), 1997. Author of numerous articles, lectures, papers, and essays.

SIDELIGHTS: John Dewey remains one of the towering figures of American intellectual life, even decades after his own death. He is often considered the nation's greatest philosopher, and in this capacity he was ranked with fellow pragmatist William James and with his mentor, C. S. Peirce. Working at a time when psychology was just emerging as a discipline, Dewey's writings in philosophy often concerned the subject of "how we think" (the title of one of his books), and his name has enjoyed enormous stature within the psychological community as well as among philosophers. Likewise he was influential in the realm of politics, being a charter member of the democratic socialist League for Industrial Democracy and the American Committee for the Outlawry of War and an active member of the American Civil Liberties Union and other organizations. Additionally, as a trustee of Jane Addams's Hull House and the Henry Street Settlement in New York City, Dewey helped to define the shape of American liberalism in the twentieth century.

Yet Dewey's influential work and his writings in the areas of philosophy, psychology, and politics were secondary to the principal interest of his career: education. A large number of the books and articles that he wrote or edited in his lifetime are concerned with this topic. In his view, education held a position at the center of all concerns, both individual and social. He believed that through education—an education built around a recognition of how the mind actually works—young people became productive members of a democracy. With the democratic system under attack in Dewey's lifetime, first from the authoritarian systems represented by the Central Powers in World War I, and later by the totalitarian menace of Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, this concern was far from academic.

How, then, to best train students? Dewey saw the key in new advances within the pragmatic school of philosophy, and in the new field of psychology. Pragmatism, which is perhaps the only school of philosophy developed in America, takes the practical approach implied by its name: instead of sticking rigidly to preconceived notions, pragmatists say, one should gain knowledge from actual facts and experiences, and adjust one's thinking with changing circumstances. At the same time, the nascent discipline of psychology offered an increased understanding of the mind's complexities, along with the promise of new keys to unlock its mysteries. Influenced by these movements, Dewey held that teachers should build their presentation of information around the child, rather than vice versa. In the 1880s, when Dewey began his writing career, this view was far from the norm: educators overwhelmingly subscribed to notions of rote learning and heavy discipline in the classroom. These ideas had prevailed in the 1800s and for centuries before that, and Dewey's The School and Society represented a radical break with the past.

Others were coming up with new educational theories too, including some that espoused the notion that children should be allowed to simply play freely, and optimum development would naturally follow. Dewey did not go this far; he believed that structure was important. As Dictionary of Literary Biography contributor Deron R. Boyles explained, "Traditionalists favored so-called basics learned by means of lecture, recitation, and drill. They had the drills, tests, and imposed rules that characterize stale, inert schooling. Child-centrists favored free activity over subject matter in order that uninhibited growth would occur. They valued children's free will without careful concern for the consequences…. Dewey decried both as dualistic extremes ill-suited for formal schools in a democratic society. The traditionalists (curriculum-centrists) were too self-absorbed inasmuch as they thought they had all the answers students needed. The child-centrists were too 'child-absorbed' to understand that not all activities are educational."

Within a few decades, Dewey and his followers had swept away the traditional modes, and his system prevailed in the classroom. In the period following his death in 1952, there was a reaction to Dewey's methods, or as Joe R. Burnett suggested in a 1979 Teachers College Record article titled "Whatever Happened to John Dewey?", a reaction to what many believed to be Dewey's methods. But by the 1990s, almost 150 years after his birth, there was a resurgence of interest and appreciation for Dewey and his ideas.

Many consider it fitting that a man of such wide-ranging influence should have enjoyed an extremely long and full life: ninety-two years, two wives, a total of ten children, and more than fifty books. The son of a well-to-do grocer in Burlington, Vermont, Dewey had his early education interrupted by the Civil War, in which his father Archibald served as quartermaster for the First Vermont Cavalry. Separated from their father for three years, the Dewey family moved to Virginia after the war, returning to Vermont in 1867. Archibald became the owner of a tobacco shop, and John Dewey returned to school in Burlington, where in 1872 he entered high school. His parents were religious conservatives of the Congregationalist Church, and they brought up their son to be both a sober young man and a serious student.

Dewey enrolled in the University of Vermont in 1875, when he was just fifteen years old. Following his graduation in 1879, he took a job as a teacher in Oil City, Pennsylvania, but this did not last long. In 1881 he moved to Vermont for another teaching position, but after he published two articles in the Journal of Speculative Philosophy in 1882, he was persuaded by his mentor, H. A. P. Torrey, to go to Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland, to earn his doctorate in philosophy.

Having earned his Ph.D. in 1884, Dewey joined the faculty of the University of Michigan, during which time he continued to study the subjects that had influenced him as a student. In some regards, the German idealist philosophy of Immanuel Kant and G. W. F. Hegel seemed an odd fit with more recent developments in "scientific" psychology, but Dewey sought to bring the two together, as evidenced by the title of his undergraduate thesis, The Psychology of Kant. On the strength of two articles on psychology in the journal Mind in 1886, Dewey's reputation began to spread. He also began to take an interest in education at that time, following his participation in a University-sponsored study of high schools in Michigan.

That year was pivotal in many ways. Dewey married one of his students, Harriet Alice Chipman, marking the beginning of an enduring marriage. His first wife was to exert considerable influence on his ideas. She was an orphan who had been raised by her grandparents. Her grandfather, who lived in Fenton, Michigan, was known for his friendly attitude toward the Native Americans in his area. He even became a crusader for their rights—a stance that drew the ire of many of the other white settlers in the area. Alice Chipman was profoundly impressed by her grandfather 's principles, and she in turn raised Dewey's consciousness about the rights of the poor, the working class, women, and other groups she thought were unfairly treated by the dominant forces in society. Boyles asserted that Chipman imparted to Dewey "three things he needed: fearlessness about ideas and opinions of others, emancipation from organized religion, and a down-to-earth understanding of social justice."

By the late 1880s, Dewey was shifting away from the idealist approach of Kant and Hegel toward the pragmatism of Peirce, who had been one of his professors at Johns Hopkins. In 1894, he took a position as the chairman of the philosophy department at the University of Chicago, and became instrumental in developing that institution's school of education—one of the first such schools in the United States. Columbia University in New York City had a similar program at its teachers college, and after some disagreement with the administration at Chicago, Dewey joined the Columbia faculty in 1905. He remained there until his death nearly half a century later.

Dewey's first notable work was The School and Society, in which he presented ideas that he would later elaborate on in Democracy and Education: An Introduction to the Philosophy of Education, one of his most influential books. By the first decade of the twentieth century, Dewey's writings had made him well-known within the intellectual community, and his name would soon become a household word. The strength of his work lay not necessarily in his writing—many critics faulted his tendency toward wordiness and opaque phraseology—or even in the innovative qualities of his ideas, many of which he borrowed from other thinkers. Rather, it was the strength of his conviction, coupled with the fact that Dewey was a man of his time, which made his books an influential body of work.

Another of Dewey's relatively early books to attract attention was Ethics, coauthored with James H. Tufts and published in 1908. The volume presents an overview of moral problems, examining the historical development of ideas about morality, varieties of moral views, and the contemporary moral climate. According to a critic in Nation, Ethics was "above the level of textbooks." Booklist, which was then known as American Library Association Booklist, called it "the best general introduction [to the subject] in English." The reviewer called its treatment of ethical questions both "modern" and "conservative," terms which well characterized Dewey's pragmatic liberalism.

With How We Think, Dewey began to develop his ideas about the psychology of education. Despite its title, in fact, the book is more about the challenges facing the elementary school system than psychology or epistemology. Though commenting that the book is "too compact for desultory reading," a critic in Booklist nonetheless declared How We Think "the best book on the subject for both teachers and students." H. Aldington Bruce, in the New York Times Book Review, held that "no school teacher—more especially no teacher of the very young—should fail to read it carefully, and it may be studied to equal advantage by the parents." So influential were Dewey's ideas by 1933, when the book was reissued, that a critic in the Saturday Review of Literature treated the work as an established classic: "The book itself contributed to the reforming movement, which with all its persisting faults has made the atmosphere of schooling more wholesome, more fresh-airy than when the Dewey campaign began."

A part of Dewey's genius, like that of influential contemporaries such as Sigmund Freud or H. G. Wells, was the timeliness of his work. Hence in 1915, when America was on the verge of war with Germany, he produced German Philosophy and Politics. The New York Times Book Review treated its publication almost as a news event, presenting its review with the headline "German Spirit Due to Kant, Not Nietzsche" and the sub-heading, "Professor Dewey Traces Prussian Militarism Back to the Famous Philosopher of the Eighteenth Century and His Categorical Imperative." Dewey's point was that whereas the roots of German militarism had often been attributed to Friedrich Nietzsche's idea of the "Superman," the origins lay further back, in the seemingly innocuous doctrines of Kant. The latter presented the idea of the State as the supreme expression of a higher moral law, a notion further developed by Hegel ("the State is the march of God through history") and others. As these views sifted down to the German populace, Dewey suggested, they created a nation more willing than most to fight and die for their Kaiser and their fatherland.

In 1915 Dewey published Schools of To-morrow, in which he and his daughter Evelyn examined applications of new educational methods in Gary, Indiana, and elsewhere. Dewey wrote in his preface, "There has been no attempt in this book to develop a complete theory of education nor yet review any systems or discuss the views of prominent educators." Dewey would approach those topics in one of his most important works, published the next year: Democracy and Education. The book represented a more defined expression of ideas which Dewey had been developing for years, and within its pages he began to bring together his views on the best society alongside his concept of the best educational system. Critics noted that such an approach was not novel; Plato had done it more than two thousand years earlier with his Republic. But once again, Dewey's work was well-suited to his time.

In Democracy and Education Dewey linked the history and development of democratic institutions with that of the scientific method, as well as of industry. In each case, humankind experimented, learning from its mistakes, and in the process explored more workable ideas. "Since democracy stands in principle for free interchange, for social continuity," Dewey wrote, "it must develop a theory of knowledge which sees in knowledge the method by which one experience is made available in giving direction and meaning to another." A reviewer in the New Republic praised Dewey for challenging readers to think: "It is impossible to read this book quickly, not because it is unclear but because it evokes a constant activity on the part of the reader." The reviewer concluded, "It is a great book because it explores [its topic] more deeply and more comprehensively than any other [work] that could be named the best hope of liberal men." Another critic lauded the volume in Nation as "a notable contribution to the philosophy of education. In the flood of modern educational literature it would be difficult to find another work in which the theory of education attains, by the depth and breadth of its thought, the dimensions of a philosophy…. To us it seems that the presentation is much clearer and more definite than that of the writer's philosophical papers, which have not seldom seemed baffling and evasive." Two genera-tions later, Nation polled a variety of thinkers concerning the most important books on education, and William H. Schuber of the John Dewey Society presented Democracy and Education as a seminal work still highly relevant in the 1990s.

Following World War I, Dewey and his wife Alice traveled to China and Japan. In Tokyo he delivered the lectures published as Reconstruction in Philosophy, which a Booklist reviewer called "concrete, clearly written and unusually free from abstruse reasoning and technical diction." Dewey's "interpretation of the reconstruction of ideas and ways of thought now going on in philosophy," as he put it in his preface—along with his idea that morality should not be absolute but rather geared toward the greatest good for the greatest number—won him a large audience in the Far East. As for his lectures in China, many of those were lost, but reappeared in English in 1973 by a roundabout path, translated from the Chinese back into their original language. To many, Lectures in China, 1919–1920 presents a thinker at the height of his powers, operating in an environment pregnant with change as it entered the modern world.

Letters from China and Japan, on the other hand, offered a more personal side of Dewey and his wife. "The letters included in this volume," wrote a critic in the New York Times Book Review, "are written under the spur of first impressions. They have not either been revised or touched up in any way. You are never expected to remember that Mr. Dewey is really a Ph. D., or that his wife reads 'deep books.' They make you see the cherry trees in bloom, the Mikado [Japan's emperor] passing with his symbols, the chrysanthemums on the panels of his carriage; the Chinese women of the middle classes at home, and the panorama of Chinese villages and streets."

Nearly a decade later, Dewey published a collection of letters from his travels in the 1920s, Impressions of Soviet Russia and the Revolutionary World, Mexico—China—Turkey. This correspondence, much of it already published in the New Republic, shows a sense of the "vitality and courage and confidence of life" that Dewey found in these societies, each of which was in the throes of modernization. Jessica Smith in the Nation, which generally supported the Bolshevik revolution in Russia, gave the book a favorable review, and quoted Dewey's qualified praise for the Soviet system: "The people go about as if some mighty and oppressive load had been removed, as if they were newly awakened to the consciousness of released energies." In the year of the book's publication, Josef Stalin was consolidating his grip on power, beginning a quarter-century reign of terror; soon Dewey would become disillusioned with Communism, and through the League for Industrial Democracy and other organizations, he would seek to counteract the Communist appeal among liberals and democratic socialists.

In 1922, another of Dewey's pivotal works was published: Human Nature and Conduct: An Introduction to Social Psychology. In this book he more directly approached the topic implied in the title of How We Think. "It is the outstanding feature of Mr. Dewey's book," wrote M. T. McClure in the Nation, "that in neither instinct nor intelligence is to be found the basal fact of social significance." Rather, what motivates behavior, in Dewey's view, is habit itself: "In understanding what men do and why they do as they do," McClure went on, "it is to habit that we must turn…. The problem of social psychology is not to explain how our socialized ways of acting are instincts writ large, but how existing institutions and customs fashion and shape the individual." Astin Hay of the New York Times Book Review wrote that "it would be doing Professor Dewey an injustice if we did not mention that, fine and penetrating as is his analysis of mind and character, the application of his fully ripened thought to the big questions of morality and social life is no less stimulating and enlightening."

Experience and Nature with its presentation of Dewey's metaphysics, represented the fulfillment of a promise to readers who had asked for a thorough exploration of his beliefs about ultimate questions. Joseph Ratner, longtime editor of Dewey's works, presented The Philosophy of John Dewey in 1928, one of the earliest of many collected and selected works which gave newcomers an overview of Dewey's philosophy. In another collection, Characters and Events: Popular Essays in Social and Political Philosophy, Dewey gave his insights on a number of people and movements that had shaped the postwar world.

Meanwhile Dewey explored, in works such as The Public and Its Problems and Individualism, Old and New, the topics of education, ethics, democracy, and knowledge that continued to concern him. In A Common Faith, the son of devout Congregationalists sought to offer a "new" type of morality divorced from religion. Even if his concern with ethics was not new, Dewey's treatment of religious faith per se showed that his interests were continuing to expand even in the eighth decade of his life. So, too, did Art as Experience, also published in 1934, a treatment of aesthetics which Dewey wrote "to restore continuity between the refined and intensified forms of experience that are works of art[,] and the everyday events, doings, and sufferings that are universally recognized to constitute experience"—in other words, to make art relevant.

In 1934 Dewey still had eighteen years of life, another marriage (he had been widowed in 1927) and several more books ahead of him. Among the latter were Liberalism and Social Action; Freedom and Culture, a liberal response to attempts by conservatives to control standards in art and popular culture; and a collection of fifty years' worth of essays, Problems of Men (sometimes called Philosophy of Education). In the late 1940s, with fellow philosopher Arthur F. Bentley, Dewey wrote Knowing and the Known, one of his last works to be published while he was alive. Dewey died in 1952, having experienced some tumultuous periods of human history in a lifetime that began two years before the Civil War and ended with American troops embroiled in the Korean conflict.

Dewey's death did not stop the flow of publications, including a volume of his correspondence with Bentley. A work of particular interest, because of the insights it offered concerning Dewey himself, was The Poems of John Dewey. Dating to the 1910s, while he was at Columbia—where he had hidden them away in his desk—many of these were written for his student Anzia Yezierska, with whom Dewey had a short but intense affair. Many critics found the poetry itself lacking in quality. "One concludes," Daniel L. Gillory wrote in Library Journal, "that Dewey was wise in concealing these poems." Nonetheless, the book offered, as a reviewer for Choice observed, "an insight into the creative mentality of a seminal American thinker."

Jo Ann Boydston received particular praise for her work as editor of Dewey's works, called "a model of excellence" by a Choice critic. By that time, she had already edited several volumes in a vast series published by Southern Illinois University Press, The Collected Works of John Dewey, 1882–1953, the final portion of which—The Later Works, 1925–1953—was published in 1990. Donald F. Koch in Ethics reviewed a 1993 collection called John Dewey: The Political Writings, and noted that the book's editors, Debra Morris and Ian Shapiro, had commented on "recent interest in [Dewey's] work in an effort to find a 'third way' in response to the 'exhaustion' of liberal and socialist world views." In a world which had seen the fall of Communism, and in an America that had begun to question many liberal precepts concerning crime, welfare, and other concerns, Dewey was still relevant. But the question remained, Koch asked, whether he offered a "comprehensive, articulate political standpoint" for "working out practical responses to current social problems." Answering that question would take time, and "there is much more to be done."

Boyles speculated on the reason for Dewey's lasting significance: "Throughout his career John Dewey exemplified what a public intellectual does: he questioned a variety of social concerns (everything from war to poverty to the Soviet Union) while contributing to discussions about the meaning of society. By questioning the variations of democracy, schooling, and community, Dewey set a high standard for conversations about the meaning of life and the ways individuals actually live those lives…. In retrospect, one of his most significant contributions to culture might just be the example he set in nearly all of his works: of challenging ordinary interpretations, common knowledge, and the taken-for-granted status quo."



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